That this House condemn the government for withdrawing from health-care funding, for no longer shouldering more than 14% of the costs of health care, and for attempting to invade provincial areas of jurisdiction by using the preliminary report by the Romanow Commission to impose its own vision of health care.
Mr. Speaker, I will begin by indicating that I am going to be sharing my time, with leave of the House, with the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.
With our characteristic sense of responsibility as the opposition, we are calling upon the government, and all parties in this House, to support this motion. It is presented by the Bloc Quebecois, but could equally be from all the provincial premiers, who have been discussing health at every annual meeting of first ministers for the past three years.
Each of them, regardless of political stripe—whether Conservative Bernard Lord of New Brunswick, or the New Democrats in western Canada—indeed all premiers are calling for the righting of an extremely worrisome situation for all those who believe in the viability of a public health system. What they find so disconcerting is the federal government's backing away from its commitments.
The members of the House of Commons in the 1960s, following the Pearson government's report that was published under the guidance of Ms. LaMarsh, laid the foundations of a public health system. If we checked, we would see that, at that time, the lawmakers' intention was to set up programs with costs that were shared equally, 50-50 by the federal government and the provinces that adhered.
The Bloc Quebecois motion is extremely clear. Right now, the federal government's contribution is 14 cents per dollar. This goes to show just how much the legacy of Lester B. Pearson is being betrayed, the legacy of those who believe in state intervention—and I recall, for example, that in 1968, the Liberal slogan was “a just society”—of those who believe in a just society, we must ensure that all have access to a viable, public, universal, integrated health care system. This just goes to show the paradox in which we find ourselves.
The federal government is calling on the provinces to fully comply with the Canada Health Act, with its five principles, yet the government itself, when it comes to funding and the commitments made in the early 1960s, is breaking both its word and the commitment it made.
It must be said loud and clear. We are betting today that, in the end, there will be a pledge of common sense, and that all parliamentarians, regardless of their political stripes, will support the Bloc Quebecois motion.
Let us make a little history today. I remind those listening that in 2000, all of the premiers called for a study. They asked their public servants from their ministries of finance and health to look into the major trends that would develop in the health care system in the coming years. They discovered three things.
First, if all of the provinces wanted to provide the exact same services that were available the previous year, they would have to add 5% more to the health and social services budgets. We know that the health care system will grow at a rate of 5% per year over the next ten years, at least.
In the study that was commissioned—not by the Bloc Quebecois or the Parti Quebecois; this is not a debate on the national issue, nor a partisan discussion—all public officials from each of the health and finance ministries came to the conclusion that health costs will increase by 5% in the coming years. A breakdown of this 5% can be made. We know that population growth accounts for 4.7% of this 5%, the consumer price index for 1%, while 1% is due to various factors, including the procurement of medical technologies and the changes that are being felt at the infrastructure level.
This is so worrisome that, with regard to this issue, the premiers commissioned a study entitled “Understanding Canada's Health Care Costs”. Let me quote from this study, which says:
Operating health expenditures for Canada are currently at close to $54 billion. Even with moderate changes in the pattern of service delivery—
So, if we do not change everything, if we do not revolutionize service delivery, even with moderate changes in the pattern of service delivery, it is anticipated that fundamental factors such as growth, the aging population, inflation and the cost of existing programs should trigger an increase of about 5% in health costs. This is the most important aspect of the study commissioned by the ten premiers.
This means that the expenditures of the provinces and territories regarding health costs will total $67 billion within the next five years, and $85 billion within the next ten years. Ten years is a very short period of time. When it comes to planning for an issue as important as the health system, administrators do it at least on a three if not a five year basis.
Members can imagine the situation the provinces are in. In Quebec, for example, $17 billion is spent on health care. Our province is not the one that spends the most and not the one that spends the least. It is in the fair median. But without some support, without some input into the re-establishment of the Canada social transfer, the provinces will never be able to meet this growth challenge, which has been diagnosed by each of the provinces.
Last night, when I was on the train, I was reading the submission made — the member for Joliette will be pleased about this —by the Centrale des syndicats du Québec. This is not the CSN, but I know about the unassailable co-operation that has always been prevailing among labour movements. Here is what was in the submission from the Centrale des syndicats du Québec, that is the former Centrale de l'enseignement, if I am not mistaken, which changed its name a year or two ago.
I think this is quite relevant. Here is the quotation:
At their August meeting, the premiers agreed to ask the federal government to re-establish, by 2004-05—therefore in two fiscal years—its contribution to health, education and social program funding, through the Canada health and social transfer, at the same level as iin 1994-95, when the Liberals came into office, and this government was funding 18% of the costs, and also to implement an appropriate indexing mechanism.
We know that all the premiers said “The federal government must at least contribute 18% of costs through the health transfer”. At this time, this contribution is 14%. This would mean that it should be contributing $28.9 billion, instead of $21 billion.
I have enough time to deal briefly with the Romanow report. This report is a huge hoax. As I am speaking, I am ready to table, with the House's consent, a research report which I have obtained and which shows that eight provinces out of ten have already had working groups on this issue. In Quebec, it was the Clair commission. There have been commissions in eight provinces and, as a result of their reports, the situation is well known. The solutions for remedying the situation with regard to the delivery of health programs that would be appropriate for the needs of the population are well known. It is the funding that is lacking.
Who asked for the Romanow report? Could anyone in the House name a provincial premier, a health minister or a finance minister who asked for an exercise like the Romanow report?
Last week, I was reading Mr. Romanow's interim report. Four possible solutions were outlined. It was suggested that public investment should be increased. An adjustment of responsibilities was also suggested. The report also talked about increased privatization and a reorganization of service delivery.
To conclude, I want to say that, on this side of the House, we believe, as all ten premiers have asked, that the option the Romanow commission should recommend is for the federal government to restore its contributions to the health system to the level of those that existed in 1993-1994 and to the level of the commitments made in the 1960s.
That is essentially was our motion asks for, and we do hope that every member in the House will vote for the motion.